We’ve all been there, you’re sitting there staring at a blank screen (like I am now), sheet of paper, or canvas, wondering what you are going to do now. Sometimes you just start typing in hopes that something might come out that’s cohesive and interesting, maybe even inspiring. But what do you do when that doesn’t work? You can’t force it. Creativity is not a brute force kind of thing. It has to come naturally, organically. Inspiration isn’t found; it finds you.
So what do you do?
The first thing I do is anything–just get started thinking about it. Find out what the rules are, set up your document or your easel or whatever, so when it hits you you’re ready. Then maybe go for a walk or do the dishes, really any seemingly ordinary task. Sometimes, and I know I’m not alone here, my best ideas come to me when I’m in the shower. Just the act of doing something seemingly mundane or ordinary while you are thinking about what you need to do frees up parts of your brain and helps you see something you couldn’t get to before.
Sometimes, though, deadlines won’t wait for your muse or for serendipity. So what then? You put on your headphones fire up your laptop, and turn to the internet. Social media channels like Instagram or Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration, although they can quickly become a distraction as you spend hour after hour plummeting down the rabbit hole and suddenly you find yourself looking at Scotch egg recipes and DIY cat treats. Find the things that are meaningful to you, identify colors and styles that appeal to your senses, take notes, compile images, create mood boards. This method is really more about innovation than invention. Meaning, it probably won’t lead you to something brand new and unique, but maybe something wonderful and evolutionary in its own right.
We all have things that inspire us, these are just some of the things that I do when I’m having trouble finding ideas. Whatever you do if it works, keep doing it. Inspiration is a feeling. It’s an emotion. It’s how you feel when you stand in front an amazing work of art or listen to your favorite song. It compels you to pick up your pen or your brush or your blow torch and just join in. Remember the first step to finding inspiration is to do something, anything. Sometimes the biggest fires start from the smallest spark.